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Laura Ingalls Wilder Biographer Caroline Fraser

January 1, 2021For millions of Americans, the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder were a staple of their childhood. Written in the 1930s and 1940s, they chronicled her family’s pioneer life in the Midwest and Great Plains in the latter part of the 19th century. They depicted much of the hardships the family faced in great detail, but they also left much out, including the death of a younger brother, and the misfortunes that plagued Wilder’s later married life.  

In a new, comprehensive historical biography of Wilder, Santa Fe author Caroline Fraser brings out new details to Wilder’s life in “Prairie Fires: The American Dreams Of Laura Ingalls Wilder.” It won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for biography. The book explores how Wilder’s books fed the stories and myths of American self-reliance and how they fit into Manifest Destiny. It also places her in the historical context in which she grew up, from the settlement of the plains to the Indian Wars and the financial calamities of the 1890s, as well as the farming practices that eventually contributed to the Dust Bowl. 

Fraser holds a Ph.D in English and American Literature from Harvard University. She was previously on the staff of The New Yorker. Her other books include “Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution,” and “God’s Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church.” 

Host: Megan Kamerick 

Caroline Fraser, author and Pulitzer Prize-winner for “Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder” 

For Further Reading:  
Caroline Fraser’s website 
Little House On the Prairie and the Truth About the American WestNew York Times 
Prairie Fires author Caroline Fraser offers a substantial biography of Laura Ingalls WilderChristian Science Monitor